Costa Rica International Schools
If you're moving to Costa Rica with children, odds are you'll want to investigate international school options around the country. Start your search here.
Costa Rica International Schools:
What You Need To Know
From Guanacaste to Puntarenas to the Central Valley, there are good international schools all over Costa Rica, with more new private schools being established every year. Read below for what you should be thinking about before selecting an international school for your child in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican School Year
Schools that follow the Costa Rican calendar have a school year that runs from February to November/December, with a long holiday over December and January. If you are moving your child from a school system with a different calendar, or if you will be moving them from Costa Rica to another international school system, you'll want to coordinate with administrators on choosing the appropriate grade level for the years they have completed. If this is a concern, you can find international schools in Costa Rica that follow the September - May/June school year that is typical in the U.S. and Canada.
Accreditation: What To Look For In Costa Rica International Schools
Private schools in Costa Rica are usually accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education (MEP).
If you think you may be moving back and forth between countries, or if your child may be applying to universities or colleges in other countries, we recommend paying close attention to additional accreditation standards.
For the United States, there are a number of accreditations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Look for any of these if U.S. accreditation matters to you. They include: MSCHE, WSUSC, SACSCOC, NWCCU, NECHE, and the Higher Learning Commission.
There are also several respected accreditation bodies that are European or international in scope, such as:
To check for international accreditation legitimacy, you can check out the membership organizations National Association of Independent Schools and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These associations require all member schools to be accredited by a recognized agency.
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Bilingual Education in Costa Rica International Schools
Many schools in Costa Rica market themselves as bilingual, but the definition of bilingual can vary considerably. Some schools teach Spanish as a separate class with English as the primary language of instruction. For other schools English is a separate class and Spanish is the primary language of instruction. Still other schools alternate the language of instruction, with certain classes or certain grade levels being taught in English or Spanish.
If you are concerned about transitioning your English-speaking child into a bilingual environment, we recommend asking administrators about the language of instruction in various classes. You can also look for the number of teachers who are native English speakers and the percentage of international students enrolled. Although, keep in mind that many parents in Costa Rica enroll their children in private schools that excel in teaching in English.
Costa Rica International School Fees
Costa Rican private and international schools typically charge a number of fees. In addition to monthly or annual tuition, you should expect to pay for uniforms and books. Most schools also charge an annual matriculation fee, often $300 to $1000 USD.
Costa Rican International School and private school tuition varies widely. Typical tuition rates range from $250 to $1000 USD per month.
Costa Rica International Schools Location
By far the region with the most international and private schools in Costa Rica is the Central Valley. Here is where the majority of Costa Ricans and international job-relocators live, so it's natural that many schools would be available.
There are also a good number of well-regarded international schools in Guanacaste, particularly in the Tamarindo/Playa Flamingo/Potrero area. Outside of these areas there are still many high-quality international and private schools, but you may only find a couple of options in any particular town. You can find good international schools in the Central Pacific Region in and near Jacó, in the South Pacific region in and near Uvita, in Monteverde's cloud forest, on the Caribbean Coast near Puerto Viejo, and of course on the Nicoya Peninsula.